IRAN NUKES (Expanded Edition), REVISITED

Column No. 124 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - October 5, 2006

This column is a slightly edited revisit to a series of short pieces that were run in this space last spring, which were in turn based upon a series of “Dr. J.’s Short Shots” run on our European Editor Michael Carmichael’s “The Moving Planet (Ltd. UK) Blog” ( for which I am privileged to be a Contributing Editor.  The topic will, I fear, be with us for quite some time and there are some new developments.  Thus, in my view it is worth this revisit, with some editing and additional commentary.

On Monday, November 29, 2004, in "Short Shot No. 27: Iranian Nukes," I wrote in part that, at that time, not a day seemed to pass without the Iranians changing their position on nuclear weapons development.  One day, they were accepting European proposals for an agreement to suspend it; the next day they seemed to be repudiating any agreement.  The U.S. and the Israelis were working hard to paint the scariest of scenarios that might arise were Iran to join the nuclear club, albeit with only a few bombs and fairly primitive delivery systems.  [Even back then] I happened to think that the scariest nation having nuclear weaponry at present is the United States under the Georgites [and still do].  It is well known that leading members of and top advisors to the Georgite regime have for some time openly talked about invading Iran.  Since the U.S. ground forces are having such a tough time against lightly armed guerillas in Iraq, with what is the U.S. going to invade Iran, one might ask?  The “nuclear option was obviously on the table.

Consider the history.  The U.S. is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons.  Since the time of the Eisenhower Administration (and to my knowledge only under successor Republican presidents), the U.S has actually considered using them again in one situation or another.  In the Iraq war, Georgite propagandists like Bill O’Reilly talked about "nuking" Fallujah.  In his national radio program on June 25, 2005, Paul Harvey, the 87 year-old Disney Corp. (ABC) commentator, questioned why “rifles” were used in Afghanistan instead of the “big one.”  The Georgite program to develop a whole new generation of "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons, designed to get at underground facilities of various kinds, receiving on-again, off-again, on-again consideration in the Republican Congress, with cost being apparently the only concern.  Most recently [that is as of the Fall of 2004], the Georgites have announced their interest in starting up a new program to develop enriched plutonium.  Such work had not been done in years.  One wonders just what the purpose of that program would be.

If I or you were in the Iranian leadership, liberal or conservative, given these facts and given that close-by Israel, presently under the Partition-rejectionist/Palestinians-ejectionist Sharonists, is estimated to have about 400 nuclear weapons, wouldn’t you and I want to have them, too?

Unless a deal is made, and since the Iranian nuclear industry is widely decentralized, only a complete takeover of the whole country by the US could prevent Iran from eventually acquiring nuclear weapons.  The deal that the Iranians may be on their way to making with the Europeans and the Russians may be indeed not to acquire nukes, in return for a solid guarantee of protection against the US.  Perhaps (I noted back then) this is what the on-again/off-again nature of the public Iranian position is all about, as the various forces maneuver behind closed doors to provide those guarantees to the Iranians.  Stranger alliances have occurred in history.

On December 04, 2004, I followed that commentary with "Short Shot No. 31: Further on Iranian Nukes."  In it I noted that a friend, a very sharp political analyst and a strong anti-Georgite on most issues, had sent me the following comment:

"Steve: If you're really, truly more afraid of George Bush than of the theocrats in Teheran, I'm afraid we don't have anything to say to each other on this topic.  If it's just rhetoric, I think it's ill-judged rhetoric."

I sent him the following response:

"Hi.  Yes, I am more afraid of George Bush and the theocrats/Neocons who are running him than I am of the theocrats in Teheran.  George Bush is rapidly turning our country into a fascist dictatorship.  This is beyond the power of the Iranians to do, nuclear-tipped or not.  The negative impacts of Georgite policy, not only for our country but also for the human species as we know it, are terrifying, in my view.  Whether or not Iran acquires nuclear weapons, I am indeed much more afraid that the Georgite theocratic/Armageddonists, as they become evermore entrenched in power, while evermore feeling that, on the international stage, their backs are against the wall, might use the US nukes than that the Iranians would use theirs."

I never did receive a response from my erstwhile correspondent.  He is obviously a man of his word, that if I stuck to my position, we had nothing further to talk about.

I returned to the subject on February 21, 2005 in "Short Shot No. 48: Going Nuclear in Iran?”  I noted that our Editor/Publisher Michael Carmichael had just published the next item below on The Iran War.  It began:

"Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter have reported that the US planning for the Iran War is reaching a very advanced stage.  George Bush has already approved a June launch, when the bombing will target strategic sites inside Iran.”  And continuing: ". . . the Defense Department is now revising military plans for a maximum ground and air invasion of the oil-rich nation."  [Hersh and Ritter were off on their timing, obviously.  We must fervently hope that the increasing number of analysts/commentators who are predicting a Georgite invasion of Iran either before or just after the election are wrong as well.]

Right above the notice of Michael's item in my email in-box that day was the daily bulletin from The Washington Post, which contained this lead item: "Army Having Difficulty Meeting Recruiting Goals.  The active-duty Army is in danger of failing to meet its recruiting goals, and is beginning to suffer from manpower strains like those that have dropped the National Guard and Reserves below full strength, according to Army figures and interviews with senior officers.  (By Ann Scott Tyson, The Washington Post)."

The Georgite maxi-Imperialists must know this [and the situation is only getting worse].  The US will have nowhere near enough ground forces for any sort of conventional invasion of Iran.  It is having a hard time holding its own against guerrillas in Iraq, much less the large, well organized and well-equipped army it would be facing in Iran.  It could very well confront mass rebellion in the ranks of the Reserves and National Guard, and even the regular forces, including some high-ranking officers (many of whom opposed the Iraq invasion, at least at the planning level) were it to try to mount a conventional invasion of Iran.  Does this mean that the powers that be are planning to go nuclear?

Yes, folks.  That is what I wrote.  The end of civilization as we know it may be closer than most of us think.

Finally, on February 25, 2005, in "Short Shot No. 49: There He Goes Again," I noted that George Bush was in Europe, talking about Iran and nuclear weapons.  While there, Bush said that he strongly endorsed the European diplomatic option in pursuit of a settlement with the "Moolahs" on the matter of "nookyulahr" weapons (yes, he used those pronunciations in a sound bite heard on All Things Considered, 2/23/ 05).  "Most important," he said.  "Will continue," he said.  "Absolutely the first option," he said.  (He did not say, of course, that his own government would engage in direct diplomacy with Iran on matters of mutual concern, any more than his government did with Hussein's Iraq, or is doing with North Korea, which has repeatedly requested bilateral negotiations.)

Which brings us to the present [that is, July 28, 2005], and my present comment.

While the open military assault predicted by Scott Ritter and Seymour Hersh has not yet taken place, according to Ritter the U.S. assault on Iran has already begun, covertly.  If true, this initiative has much in common with the pre-emptive air war that the US and the UK launched against Iraq well before they went to the UN with their “justifications” for “meeting the clear and present danger that Hussein’s Iraq presented to the world.”  Ritter states that the anti-Iranian government terrorist organization, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (known as the MEK or MKO in the West) is operating as a strike force under CIA direction, and that the United States is preparing to stage military attacks with U.S. troops from the neighboring Republic of Azerbaijan.

As for the Iranian President and the possibility of U.S.-Iranian negotiations, the process of demonization of the former, most likely to give the US an excuse not to negotiate with him, has already begun.  He has been identified as a hostage-taker, interrogator, and possible torturer during the Tehran US Embassy hostage crisis of 1979-80 by at least six former hostages.  Iranian authorities are going out of their way to deny this, but one wonders what difference that would make if the Georgites really wanted to negotiate.  Of course, the US does not negotiate with terrorists.  Except.  Except when its interest is to do so.

After all, Reagan may well have negotiated with the Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1980 elections, with Bush the First as a major go-between, to defer release of the hostages until after the US elections, which Khomeini did (see the book October Surprise by Gary Sick).  Reagan definitely negotiated with the Khomeini regime to arrange the Iran part of the Iran-Contra scheme to raise money to buy weapons for the Nicaragua contras.  Both sides of the conspiracy were illegal.  Iran was at the time officially designated as a "terrorist state” by the US, and US aid of any kind to the Contras was specifically prohibited by the Boland Amendment.  So Bush's ideological forbears, including directly his Dad, negotiated directly with the Iranian terrorists when it served their objectives. The Rumsfeld-lead mission under Reagan to line up with Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War (which funnily enough occurred around the same time that Iran-Contra was underway) is well-known.  As for the present, the Georgites are apparently negotiating with the Iraqi insurgents/terrorists right now (what exactly about, one has to wonder).  But direct negotiations with the government of Iran would not serve their interests now, so the facts be damned.  Let the demonization begin.

History, consistency, and honesty are just inconveniences for the Georgites and their supporters.  On the much more important nuclear question, one still has to wonder, is the use of nuclear weapons already on the Georgite agenda for Iran?  Given their extraordinary track record for secrecy and conspiracy, we may know only when the first mushroom cloud appears over the Elburz, or perhaps the Tagros mountains of that historic land.